*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 12th of June 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
Our show from March 14, 2019 was the first time we mentioned “Mit Brennender Sorge” the only Papal Encyclical written in German and the only encyclical sent out secretly to churches under cover of night by motorcycle. Of course, this was all secretive on account of the encyclical criticizing the NAZI’s. Today we are going to tell the story of one of the men who helped draft this document and look at his curious life as a sometime-member of the ecclesiastical resistance.
The Archbishop of Munich, Michael von Faulhaber died on this, the 12th of June in 1952. He was known as an opponent of NAZI ideology, a defender of German Jews, and one of the authors behind that anti-NAZI encyclical. But like all people, his story is not one of being pure as the driven snow nor of being a rogue wearing the black hat.
Faulhaber came to national attention in the early 20s when he was opposed to the Beer Hall Putsch. This, combined with his work trying to rid the church of anti-Semitism would make him an obvious foil for the coming Führer, but it’s not that simple.
First, Faulhaber was a strict conservative and opponent of the Weimar Republic. The Weimar Republic was that brief democratic and populist era before Hitler that saw the abdication of the Kaiser, the implementation of a constitution and the separation of church and state. Faulhaber, a committed Monarchist saw this all as a slide into a demotic, if not demonic, abyss.
And so, despite his opposition to the Beer Hall Putsch and anti-Semitism he believed that Adolf Hitler was not the mad man that some of the crowds adored, and that he would certainly pivot to more respectable positions as he grew into the Chancellorship.
One year after Hitler’s ascension to power Faulhaber wrote his “Judaism, Christianity and Germany”. He would attempt to have the Holy Week liturgy changed to protect Jewish people from direct blame for the crucifixion of Jesus. And, of course, Faulhaber did assist in the writing of Mitt Brennender Sorge (bonus anti-NAZI points!) but also supported the annexation of Czechoslovakia and celebrated a Mass to commemorate Hitler’s escape from an assassination attempt.
As Hitler turned into… Hitler, Faulhaber did realize that the German “blood and soil” came to supplant the blood of Jesus as humanity’s only hope. His sermons began to turn on the Nazi’s and by the end of World War 2 he had established himself as a leading anti-Nazi voice. He worked with the occupation forces in Germany and was held up as a shining example of an anti-NAZI Christian German. Of course, it wasn’t that simple, but it hardly ever is.
Today we remember the complicated Michael Von Faulhaber, Archbishop of Munich who was born in 1869 and died on this day in 1952 at the age of 83.
The last word for today comes from the Epistle of St. James, the 5th chapter:
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 12th of June 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man whose favorite Kaiser’s include Wilhelm, the Chiefs, and that soft white roll. He is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man familiar with the story of Faulhaber but with regards to his praise of the Anschluss, well, I did NAZI that coming. I am Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.